Many whistle-blowers that have been trying to expose the frailties and fraudulence of the psychiatric drug industry regard Dr Breggin as a mentor, and increasingly, many survivors of psychiatric drug addiction and neurotoxicity feel the same. His books occupy a significant section in my personal library.
I borrowed the main title of this column from psychiatrist Peter Breggin’s ground-breaking 1999 book Your Drug May Be Your Problem. Thousands of Big Pharma whistle-blowers like me, along with millions of other skeptics concerning the alleged safety (now disproven) and alleged efficacy (now disproven) of Big Pharma’s often toxic and often addictive psych drugs, are justifiably concerned with the huge influence that the for-profit, essentially amoral, multinational pharmaceutical corporations have over the medical establishment, including the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) and academic psychiatry.
“We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth… For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it might cost, I am willing to know the whole truth, to know the worst, and to provide for it.” — Patrick Henry (1775)
“One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine…The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease…The person who takes medicine must recover twice, once from the disease and once from the medicine.” — Dr. William Osler
“Prozac and its successor antidepressants cause sexual dysfunction in as many as 70% of people taking them.” – Dr Loren Mosher
I have spent many hours reading and studying Breggin’s books. Over and over again, I have confirmed the veracity of his evidence and applied his insights in my past practice of holistic mental healthcare, where I saw hundreds of patients who had been seriously sickened by and addicted to irrational cocktails of psych drugs, which has been prescribed in trial-and-error experimental fashions. Sometimes, when all the psych drugs and their combinations and dosages of drugs had been tried and failed (usually making the patient worse), brain-disabling and seizure-inducing electroshock, the ultimate psychiatric method of last resort, was added, with the predictable loss of employability, personality and memory – both short-term and long-term.
Sadly, because Breggin has been such a big threat to the profitability of Big Pharma and the practice of psychiatry, he has unfairly been regarded as a medical heretic, and therefore he, his courageous truth-telling and his books have been essentially black-balled by psychiatrists and the medical establishment. Despite the fact that his ideas are considered heretical in mainstream psychiatry, his books continue to be inspirational and educational for psychiatric patients who know that they have been sickened and/or made worse by the use of brain-disabling drugs and electroshock.
Breggin is a giant among psychiatric whistle-blowers and a huge thorn in the side of the super-wealthy and obscenely profitable multinational psychopharmaceutical corporations (and much of academic psychiatry). He has been influential with free-thinking physicians and feared by establishment types ever since his first ground-breaking book was published in 1991.
That book was titled Toxic Psychiatry: Why Therapy, Empathy and Love Must Replace the Drugs, Electroshock and Biochemical Theories of the ‘New Psychiatry’.
Last year was the 25th anniversary of Toxic Psychiatry’s publication and I dedicated a recent seminar that I did in St Paul, MN to him. It needs to be emphasized that Breggin’s books are virtually banned books in polite medical establishment circles. They are rarely found on mainstream book-seller’s store shelves, and they are absent from hospital libraries that are designed for physician education.
Among the approximately 2 dozen books Dr Breggin has written during his long career as author and practicing psychiatrist (he is still curing patients at age 80) is his Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry: Drugs, Electroshock and the Role of the FDA (1997, revised in 2008).
That book exposed the corrupted pseudoscience and out-and-out bribery that has enabled the psychopharmaceutical industry to convince the CDC, the FDA, the NIMH, and academic psychiatry (all of which have enormous power in essentially every medical school and major medical clinic in the nation), to thrive by foisting their potentially addictive, potentially brain-damaging and potentially dementia-inducing synthetic psych drugs (and their potentially brain-damaging electroshock “treatments”) onto an unsuspecting, indoctrinated and often naive healthcare industry (and the brain-washed populace). Pharmaceutical money in the hundreds of millions are showered upon those supposedly independent groups every year.
Corporate, for-profit “science” has not been recognized as pseudoscience and therefore has been spreading, thanks to the propaganda that is repeated endlessly in the popular media that overwhelms the accurate, unbiased neuroscience research that is published (but not read by most physicians) in relatively obscure journals.
Non-corrupted “pure” science that doesn’t rely on Big Pharma money can only be done if the influence of big money isn’t a factor. And the journal articles written about that science are being written by conscientious and under-funded research scientists who haven’t been bought or co-opted by the pharmaceutical corporations that are collectively known as Big Pharma.
The full title of Dr Breggin’s 1999 book, co-authored with Dr David Cohen, is Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Medications.
Psychiatrist William Glasser wrote the following in the forward to the first edition:
“Nowhere does the false medical thinking (that there is a drug cure for almost all common diseases) do more harm than in the modern psychiatric argument that mental illness is easily diagnosed and then cured by a side-effect-free drug. Nowhere is the correct psychiatric thinking more evident than in the books by Peter Breggin. In them he explains clearly that patients with mental illnesses are in almost all instances suffering from their inability to connect with important people in their lives and need help in making these vital connections. He supports safe, drug-free counseling as a more effective way to help people, and I enthusiastically agree with this premise.”
Psychiatrist Alberto Fergusson wrote:
“This book is one of the most important things that has happened to psychiatry and especially to so-called ‘psychiatric patients’ during this century. Having worked for more than 20 years with so-called schizophrenics – the main victims of the abuse by prescribed psychiatric drugs – I can say that Breggin and Cohen must be praised for the courage they have had to unmask many pseudo-scientific conclusions frequently present in supposedly scientific literature.”
Psychiatrist Douglas C. Smith endorsed the book with this:
“One hundred years from now, people will read current psychiatric textbooks with the same incredulity we have about blood-letting and snake oil. Your Drug May Be Your Problemwill be remembered as the turning point and as the beacon that showed the way out of these dark days of widespread psychiatric drugging. Breggin and Cohen provide us with critical information we need to know in order to make informed decisions about psychiatric drugs, including when and how to stop taking them. They present it all within a coherent philosophy of life and health that makes the routing use of psychiatric drugs obsolete. If you have reached that inevitable point of being disillusioned with your psychiatric drug, this book will be your best friend and guide.”
In 2008, another of Breggin’s ground-breaking books was published. It was titled Medication Madness: A Psychiatrist Exposes the Dangers of Mood-altering Medications. The liner notes say:
“Medications for everything from depression and anxiety to (so-called) ADHD and insomnia are being prescribed in alarming numbers across the country, but the “cure” is often worse than the original problem. “Medication Madness” is a fascinating, frightening and dramatic look at the role that psychiatric medications have played in 50 case histories of suicide, murder, and other violent, criminal and bizarre behaviors…
“Psychiatric drugs frequently cause individuals to lose their judgment and their ability to control their emotions and actions. The book raises and examines the issues surrounding personal responsibility when behavior seems driven by drug-induced adverse reactions and intoxication.
“Many categories of psychiatric drugs can cause potentially horrendous reactions. Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, Xanax, lithium, Zyprexa and other psychiatric medications may spellbind patients into believing they are improved when too often they are becoming worse. Psychiatric drugs drive some people into psychosis, mania, depression, suicide, agitation, compulsive violence and loss of self-control without the individuals realizing that their medications have deformed their way of thinking and feeling. The book documents how the FDA, the medical establishment and the pharmaceutical industry have oversold the value of psychiatric drugs. The book serves as a cautionary tale about our reliance on potentially dangerous psychoactive chemicals to relieve our emotional problems and provides a positive approach to taking personal charge of our lives.”
<<<The Tragic Story of the Soteria Project and the Plot to Kill it (A Conspiracy Between Big Pharma, the NIMH and Academic Psychiatry)>>>
“Psychiatry has been almost completely bought out by the drug companies…We’re so busy with drugs that you can’t find a nickel being spent on [non-drug] research.” – Dr Loren Mosher
Psychiatrist Loren Mosher (who earned degrees from both Harvard and Stanford) was the highly esteemed founder of the experimental “Soteria Project: Community Alternatives for the Treatment of Schizophrenia” from 1971 to 1983.
5 years before his untimely death in 2004, Dr Mosher endorsed Breggin’s Your Drugs May Be Your Problem. He wrote:
“Confronting current psychiatric drug prescribing practice head-on is a daunting task and we owe Drs Breggin and Cohen a vote of thanks for openly speaking the truth. Despite what the pharmaceutical companies would have us believe, we don’t need ‘a better life through chemistry.’ This book will help debunk this myth and provide practical advice on how to avoid psychiatric drugs and get off them.”
The Soteria Project proved that patients with first onset psychotic breaks could actually be cured without the need for coercive, in-patient psychiatry or the so-called “anti-psychotic/major tranquilizer” drug treatments that were considered the standard of care in all of America’s in-patient psychiatric facilities.
One only has to recall Jack Nicholson’s psych ward in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” where everybody was forced to take the authoritarian Nurse Ratched’s Thorazine at “Medication Time”.
Neither Nurse Ratched, the psychiatrists nor the treatment staff working on Randle McMurphy’s ward had any idea that the antipsychotic drugs that were routinely administered commonly caused permanent iatrogenic brain damage, including tardive dyskinesia, tardive dementia, Parkinson’s disease, brain shrinkage and sexual dysfunction, not to mention a high incidence of the following antipsychotic drug-induced signs and symptoms: akathisia, depression, suicidality, homicidality, disability, unemployability, homelessness, loss of IQ points, chronic constipation, dry mouth, premature death, and general feelings of zombification.
Thorazine, and its sister “first generation” anti-psychotic drugs like Mellaril and Haldol, and every other so-called anti-psychotic drug ever made since then (including the second generation/“atypical” antipsychotics (and even the SSRIs) that wouldn’t come to market until the 1990s, have been found to cause diabetes, obesity, gynecomastia, pituitary dysfunction, cardiac rhythm disturbances, sudden death, etc.
Soteria’s lucky patients had been randomized into the Soteria Project and therefore most of them avoided being falsely labeled as life-long chronic schizophrenics. Most importantly, most of them didn’t wind up as permanent patients on life-long psych drugs. If it hadn’t been for the existence of the Soteria Project, they would have instead been sent to a typical coercive Southern California insane asylum, where they were told that they had a non-existent chemical brain imbalance and therefore had to be on dependency-inducing, brain-altering and brain-damaging psychiatric drugs for the rest of their lives.
Because of the luck of the draw many Soteria patients were cured of their temporary psychosis at far less costs of care and without the brain damage. Some of the Soteria patients went on to lead normal lives following their discharge. In contrast, the vast majority of the patients who had been randomized into the “insane asylums”, wound up chronically drugged with dangerous, untested (for safety) cocktails of drugs, often for the rest of their lives (which were destined to be shortened by 25 years because of the drugs).
Tragically, especially for the millions of future mis-diagnosed (and therefore mis-treated) so-called “chronic schizophrenics” since then, the Soteria Project was sabotaged by Dr Mosher’s own National Institute of Mental Health. The obviously unwelcome positive findings that were coming out of the Soteria Project were accurately seen by the establishment types in the NIMH, Big Pharma and Big Psychiatry as an economic threat to their industries, and they had to act to subvert the project. Scandalously, the project was defunded in 1983.
In a posthumously published book (2004), Dr Mosher and his co-authors describe the highly successful innovative, non-drug therapeutic approach that was given to Soteria’s patients by the young, caring, altruistic, but non-professional staff. The book was titled Soteria: From Madness to Deliverance. It told the story of the noble experiment that managed to alleviate the temporary mental suffering of some otherwise doomed fellow humans who would have been put at risk of permanent life-long drug-induced disabilities rather than given a chance at a cure.
A good description of the project can be read at Robert Whitaker’s Mad In America website: https://www.madinamerica.com/2015/04/upon-leaving-soteria-alaska-2/.
“Soteria is the story of a special time, space, and place where young people diagnosed as ‘schizophrenic’ found a social environment where they were related to, listened to, and understood during their altered states of consciousness. Rarely, and only with consent, did these distressed and distressing persons take ’tranquilizers’. They lived in a home in a California suburb with nonmedical caregivers whose goal was not to ‘do to’ them but to ‘be with’ them. The place was called ‘Soteria’ (Greek for deliverance), and there, for not much money, most recovered. Although Soteria’s approach was swept away by conventional drug-oriented psychiatry, its humanistic orientation still has broad appeal to those who find the mental health mainstream limited in both theory and practice.”
One can appreciate the anguish that Mosher and all the committed and enthusiastic non-professional healers felt when the NIMH pulled the plug on the experiment. Mosher became disillusioned with the APA and eventually resigned.
<<<Loren Mosher’s 1998 Letter of Resignation from the APA: “I want no part of it anymore.”>>>
Here are excerpts from Mosher’s letter of resignation from the APA, a professional trade and lobbying organization to which he had been a long-time member. For good reason, he called the APA the American Psychopharmaceutical Association.
He unintentionally outlines in his resignation letter the well-known strategy of how dysfunctional organizations often try to get rid of their best people (especially the creative and talented ones who also happen to be a threat to the less competent and ingrained upper management types whose positions of power, influence and seniority may be at risk). Making life miserable for promising up-and-coming employees is commonly orchestrated by threatened superiors by demoralizing the subordinates into quitting the organization. Such cowardly attacks can avoid controversy and legal entanglements. Mosher felt the pressure and logically resigned, saying “I want no part of it anymore”. Here is some of Mosher’s resignation letter:
“The trouble began in the late 1970s when I conducted a controversial study: I opened a program — Soteria House — where newly diagnosed schizophrenic patients lived medication-free with a young, nonprofessional staff trained to listen to and understand them and provide companionship. The idea was that schizophrenia can often be overcome with the help of meaningful relationships, rather than with drugs, and that such treatment would eventually lead to unquestionably healthier lives.
“The experiment worked better than expected. Over the initial six weeks, patients recovered as quickly as those treated with medication in hospitals.
“The results of the study were published in scores of psychiatric journals, nursing journals and books, but the project lost its funding and the facility was closed. Amid the storm of controversy that followed, control of the research project was taken out of my hands. I also faced an investigation into my behavior as chief of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Center for Studies of Schizophrenia and was excluded from prestigious academic events. By 1980, I was removed from my post altogether. All of this occurred because of my strong stand against the overuse of medication and disregard for drug-free, psychological interventions to treat psychological disorders.
“I soon found a less politically sensitive position at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland. Eight years later, I re-entered the political arena as the head of the public mental health system in Montgomery County, Md., but not without a fight from friends of the drug industry. The Maryland Psychiatric Society asked that a state pharmacy committee review my credentials and prescribing practices to make sure that Montgomery County patients would receive proper (read: drug) treatments. In addition, a pro-drug family advocacy organization arranged for more than 250 furious letters to be sent to the elected county executive who had hired me. Fortunately, my employers were not drug industry-dominated, so I kept my position.
“Why does the world of psychiatry find me so threatening? Because dD. They are too busy enjoying drug company perks: consultant gigs, research grants, fine wine and fancy meals
“Pharmaceutical companies pay through the nose to get their message across to psychiatrists across the country. They finance symposia at the two predominant annual psychiatric conventions, offer yummy treats and music to conventioneers, and pay $1,000-$2,000 per speaker to hock their wares. It is estimated that, in total, drug companies spend an average of $10,000 per physician, per year, just on “education”.
“And, of course, the doctors-for-hire tell only half the story. How widely is it known, for example, that Prozac and its successor antidepressants cause sexual dysfunction in as many as 70% of people taking them?…
“Recently, it was dues-paying time for the American Psychiatric Association, and I sat there looking at the form. I thought about the unholy alliance between the APA and the drug industry. I thought about how consumers are being affected by this alliance, about the overuse of medication, about side effects and about alternative treatments. I thought about how irresponsibly some of my colleagues are acting toward the general public and the mentally ill. And I realized, I want no part of it anymore.”
The demise of the Soteria Project is just another of the multitude of daily examples of amoral, non-human, sociopathic corporations doing what is best for their bottom line and not what is best for the people that are targets of their dangerous products. We are all poorer for their actions.